Bristol, England’s Hateful Abandon are probably one of the more adventurous and ambitious bands around these days. Rooted, ultimately, in the black metal scene (specifically, depressive black metal bands Abandon and Basilisk), around 2006 or so frontman Vice Martyr took his project in a surprising new direction, mining British postpunk, goth, and anarcho-punk for the unique LP that would end up becoming 2008’s “Famine (or into the Bellies of Worms)”. That debut LP is a bleak marriage of Vice’s deep, sonorous vocals with the old school black metal of Darkthrone and the gothy postpunk sounds of bands like Joy Division and the Sisters of Mercy.
The new “Liars/Bastards” release is Hateful Abandon’s 3rd full length, and the two-man project (Tom of black metal band Swine handles the percussion and other instruments) has increasingly incorporated industrial (in the old school sense), gloomy synth pop, and dark ambient sounds into its arsenal. And they do it quite well indeed.
The last track on “Liars/Bastards,” for example, “December,” starts off like a rumbling, tribal number one might expect to find on something like Killing Joke’s 1990 “Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions” LP. About halfway into the song, however — which is over 10 and a half minutes long — the piece transforms into a bleak and gloomy soundscape that’s a little more reminiscent of something Lustmord might conjure up. In fact, the Blade Runner atmosphere is laid on thick and heavy for this part; the second half of the song would be perfect on the soundtrack of that movie — a foreboding ambient piece that sounds like Vangelis had just listened to Current 93’s Dogs Blood Rising.
Track 5, “The Walker,” has an official video, below. This song has a more militaristic feel that is characteristic of Hateful Abandon’s better forays into industrial music (see, for example, the excellent track “Poundland” off their 2nd LP, Move — a marching, aggressive political postpunk-meets-industrial-meets-synth-pop call to arms). The influences of older industrial bands like Mussolini Headkick (“Themes for Violent Retribution”) and the politics of bands like New Model Army, Crass, and Flux of Pink Indians make themselves apparent. In fact, on a lot of Hateful Abandon’s more recent stuff, there is barely any black metal influence to be heard at all, except occasionally in Vince’s angry, echoing vocals. In other words, one needn’t have any knowledge of the band’s black metal roots to enjoy the music, which stands on its own as excellent dark synth/industrial/postpunk. Vice’s stern, commanding, deep voice at times reminds me of Rome’s Jerome Reuter, or some of the other martial industrial vocalists one encounters in the more militaristic side of the post-industrial spectrum.
In a 2006 interview, Vice Martyr explained his turn towards a more postpunk influence in his songwriting:
It’s pretty confusing when you sit down to perform a Black Metal record and the sound that emanates from the speakers is not Black Metal at all. Couple that with the recent spate of ‘cut n’ paste’ Black Metal that gets churned out of teenagers’ bedrooms on an almost daily basis, and you get a pretty frustrated person. […] I’ll never let any ‘genre traps’ get in the way of my musical output ever again… Music genres are a total fucking con, created by music journalists in suits and ties that want to sell you magazines. Hateful Abandon and anything I do in the future is simply music… not Black Metal, not Metal… just music. People can call it Black Metal I suppose, that’s convenient if they simply HAVE to put everything in one little neat and tidy slot. There’s NEVER a limit.
Track 4, “The Test” is more of a straightforward noir synth-pop number, utilizing samples and an array of dark synths:
It’s track 2, “Culprit,” that may be my favorite on the LP. Again there’s a militaristic feel coupled with atmospheric, gloomy keyboards, and swirling, slashing postpunk guitar sounds that I think characterizes a lot of HA’s best stuff. One thing that cannot be over-emphasized is the incredible job that Swine’s Tom has done on the drumming. Live drumming mixed with programmed drum machines (or at least that’s how it sounds to me) is combined with the percussive effects of old-school industrial sounds: Things like chains clinking, oil drums being pounded, metal scraping against metal, etc. The element of experimentation that drove bands like Savage Republic and Einsterzende Neubauten to make music is on display on much of HA’s work.
Hateful Abandon’s music is usually shoe-horned into the newer “post-black metal” category I’ve seen bandied about for the past 6 years or so: A newer genre tag that includes bands like Lifelover and Circle of Ouroborus, apparently. Whatever you want to call the music, it’s good. I think “Liars/Bastards” is a better and more cohesive LP than their sophomore Move LP, personally. It’s a post-apocalyptic journey that isn’t bound by artificial genre conventions, incorporating the best elements of the rebellious ideology of Crass records, the original spirit of industrial innovation that drove labels like Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial records, and the somber postpunk and gothic rock of bands like Joy Division and Killing Joke.
You can get Hateful Abandon’s “Liars/Bastards” LP from Todestrieb Records, here.
Hateful Abandon have a Facebook page here.